Warning as Cork numbers rise: ‘Knuckle down and do level 3 like we mean it’

Warning as Cork numbers rise: ‘Knuckle down and do level 3 like we mean it’

Dr Mary Favier: We may have beds for people with Covid but not for anything else. Any surge beds would result in staff being taken from other areas to make it work.

COVID-19 cases in Cork continue to rise, and a Cork member of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has warned that the public has only a short time to ‘knuckle down’ and avoid further restrictions.

Dr Mary Favier, who is also the Covid-19 adviser to the Irish College of General Practitioners, was speaking after more than 100 cases of Covid-19 were notified in Cork on a single day.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) was notified of 617 confirmed cases, including 107 in Cork, yesterday. Five additional virus-related deaths in Ireland were also notified.

Speaking to The Echo, Dr Favier said the five additional deaths are tragic incidents that indicate Covid-19 is spreading among the most vulnerable populations.

“What we’re seeing is that it’s not just in young people — it’s also in the older population from the 50s to 65-year-olds,” said Dr Favier. “That’s a very big concern.

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“We’re also seeing increasing numbers that are becoming unwell,” said Dr Favier.

She said the respiratory hub in Cork City was operating at full capacity on Thursday for the first time since May. The hub is available to patients who are Covid-positive or appear to have Covid and who need to be seen, and are advised by GPs to attend for fear of further contamination if attending elsewhere.

“That’s very concerning as some patients had to be delayed and half of the patients there had to go to hospital,” said Dr Favier.

She said the increase in cases is resulting in more hospitalisations. The HSE says hospitals have not been overwhelmed and that surge capacity is in place if required, but Dr Favier warned that, if cases keep increasing, hospitals will be put under pressure.

“Critical care beds in hospitals are being used at the moment for non-Covid stuff such as cancers, heart surgeries, and other issues,” she said. “They’re already being delayed and deferred for months because of the rising cases.

“That means we may have beds for people with Covid but not for anything else.

“Any surge beds would result in staff being taken away from other areas to make it work.”

The latest HSE daily report revealed that no critical care beds were available in Cork hospitals on Thursday, and that just four general beds were free.

People must be “extra vigilant”, said Dr Favier. “We must really knuckle down and do level three like we mean it, act like it’s level five.”

She said restrictions could be heightened across the country.

“I think we’re looking at potentially increased restrictions all over the country but we have 10 days to two weeks to make a difference and show we can do it at this level,” she said.

New figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) revealed that this is the third week in a row that Cork has recorded more than 100 cases. Cork is the county with the second highest number of new cases, at 285 cases, for the week ending October 2, according to the CSO.

Around 55% of Ireland’s confirmed cases are now linked to outbreaks and for the last seven weeks outbreaks in private houses account for 61% of those cases.

Cork made up 21% of all cases linked to an outbreak for the week ending October 2.

The CSO also revealed that women and those aged 25-44 years continue to account for the highest number of confirmed cases.

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